'The biggest joy of my life'

St. Mark's Preschool director chosen as Craig Daily Press Teacher of the Year

Rosemary Crosthwaite sees in children what others see in her.

"Children are not pretentious," Crosthwaite said. "They give everything they've got."

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And that's how co-workers and friends describe Crosthwaite -- someone who gives everything she has to help others.

Crosthwaite, known affectionately as "Miss Rosie," has been St. Mark's Preschool director for a quarter century.

The Craig Daily Press editorial board chose her from a pool of 11 nominees as the 2006-07 Teacher of the Year.

"It's a wonderful honor, probably the biggest honor in my life," Miss Rosie said.

Miss Rosie, 71, began her career in 1976 at the Horizons for the Handicapped preschool. She served as the Small World preschool director for a year and a half before taking over at St. Mark's, a nonprofit preschool.

Miss Rosie, a Craig resident for the most part since 1956, said she most enjoys watching children grasp concepts, as well as receiving their adoration and hugs.

The director said she had wanted six children of her own, but instead adopted two. The preschool has given Miss Rosie the large family she'd dreamt of.

"God sent me 600 children, but not all at once," she said.

Miss Rosie's dedication to her students and their families is what led teacher's aides Christy Gonzales and Trish Snyder to nominate her for the award.

"It's just the effort that she puts in to each child," Gonzales said. "She'll always make a point to make your child feel special."

Gonzales has been an aide at the school for just a year, but her relationship with Miss Rosie goes back much further. Gonzales was one of Miss Rosie's students as a child, and her two children, Abigail and Tyler, each attended St. Mark's for three years.

"Just overall as a person, as a teacher, I think she's affected almost every single person in this community, and it's all been positive," Christy Gonzales said. "I can't imagine where my children would be without the foundation she's given them."

Abigail, now a fourth-grader at Sunset Elementary School, said Miss Rosie still is a big part of her life. She goes to the school in the afternoons to read to the preschoolers.

"She really seems happy," Abigail Gonzales said. "She never seems like she's mad or has a grumpy day. She laughs a lot."

Abigail said Miss Rosie instills important life lessons in her students.

"Nobody's ever really perfect. She taught us that," Abigail said. "Even sometimes she makes mistakes, and she would tell us that nobody's perfect."

Snyder, who is in her fifth year as an aide under Miss Rosie's direction, is a member of the Moffat County Board of Education, of which St. Mark's is not a part.

"I'm a firm believer in early childhood education," Snyder said. "That's the name that comes to mind when you're talking about preparing kids for our district."

Each of Snyder's four children attended Miss Rosie's preschool, which Snyder said primed them for their future education.

"I think it's her selflessness," Snyder said. "I've just never met anybody who puts the kids ... above everybody else."

And with three decades of educating under her belt, Miss Rosie said she would not trade one day.

"This has been the happiest 25 years of my life," Crosthwaite said. "It's a lot of work but it's been the biggest joy of my life."

Every year, parents ask Miss Rosie if she's going to retire.

"I don't know how long I'm going to do it," Crosthwaite said of teaching. "I still have a lot of energy. I still have a lot of love to give the children, so I don't plan to retire anytime soon."

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